Of STORRM strategies & Hero content - How PR is amplifying communication in crisis times

In this day and age, effective content is absolutely mission critical and a key differentiator for agencies to run their businesses. The pandemic has only multiplied its importance, with digital strategies becoming a key cog in the wheel for brand marketing. Content is said to be the king of the industry, because it is that one thing that will help brands communicate the right message to their audiences. Today, when media has become so dynamic, the importance of fresh, interesting and relevant content is what keeps brands’ engagement strategy with their audiences going.

With the increase in adoption of digital technology, content consumption behaviour is also undergoing seismic shifts and that is where PR agencies had to rework on their strategies and bring in a lot of innovative approaches for continuous engagement with the audience.

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Most of the content is watched live on the go by the Gen Next audience. Therefore, the attention span of this audience is very short and hence, it is important to keep the content crisp and catchy to draw their attention. The COVID-19 pandemic has led PR to adopt a more holistic and integrated communications approach, and not remain restricted to traditional media. Content for mediums like social media and digital media also varies as each type of content has a different purpose and outcome.

Fake news is a growing menace in the digital era. In such a scenario, the value of communication lies in balancing the act. Speaking about how the pandemic has thrown up many challenges in generating content, Rachna Baruah, Founder, Madchatter Brand Solutions, said, “One of the biggest challenges that the PR industry today faces is the lack of good content. In an ever dynamic industry like public relations/ communications, content is the core of everything we do. But the talent in content has been dwindling in the last few years. However, the pandemic also brought an opportune space for teams and agencies to get more creative. In this scenario, it is important to hone team members and professionals on the basis of their individual skills and interest areas. That is where good content is developed in the most unassuming ways. We have been able to create some amazing and effective brand launches and market entries in the last one year, where some of our clients today are industry leaders in their share of voice and mind in their respective segments. That only takes place through novel and effective content brainstorming.”

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Today, every brand has a digital presence, but only a few gain the momentum to be relevant and loved by their audience and this is no rocket science for any brand, but it can be done by brainstorming on the content which can attract the audience and can be of their interest.

According to Dr Samir Kapur, Director, Adfactors PR, “While the pandemic accelerated the pace of digital transformation, digital media and social media attained pivotal positions. Since social media is a dynamic space and information gets amplified in minutes, we also have a social media listening mechanism in place that alerts brands on all conversations that are happening on social media, so that requisite actions can be taken on a real-time basis. Our teams are adept in producing all forms of compelling content for social media, with quick turnaround time.”

He further said, “With the new communications normal, with digital at its very heart, Adfactors PR has been quick to adopt a Digital-first strategy, woven around this new existential tenet that had emerged. We had invested in several in-house proprietary technologies. The two turn-key solutions our firm provides in this segment are STORRM (“Strategic Online Risk and Reputation Mitigation”) and COMMNEXT (“Communications Next”).”

Speaking about the kind of content strategies that PR agencies follow to keep the engagement going with their audience, Nitin Mantri, Group CEO, AvianWe, President, ICCO, said, “To create good content, insights from research and experiences are key, but since both became limited in the lockdown phase, the situation presented a bit of a struggle. Further, with businesses massively hit by the pandemic, clients across agencies have reduced scope due to budget constraints or man hour issues.”

 Adding to this, he said, “We follow the ‘Help, Hub and Hero’ content model, where Help looks at creating content addressing customer queries, Hub aims at creating repeat customers, and Hero creates tent-pole moments. It is important to participate in trending discussions, significant days and events, relevant memes, and pop culture – conversations that are of interest among the audience.”

Since social media is a dynamic space and information gets amplified in minutes, clients are more focused on the same. Keeping in mind the vast digital ecosystem containing numerous platforms and aggregators and a plethora of content, the fight for attention is fierce. Hence, utilising all available channels to create tune-ins and drive call-to-action has also been crucial for the PR agencies.

Talking about the digital shift with major tools of technologies, Shipra Singh, Technology Practice Lead, Ruder Finn said, “Technology has proliferated in every aspect of our lives, and content creation is no different. While data and analytics have been used to determine what works best for our clients, we have actively deployed artificial intelligence and machine learning models to design differentiated and highly personalised content. Content personalisation is a vital tool for creating unique experiences between a brand and its customers. Done right, it can considerably increase audience engagement levels and lead to better brand recall.”

Jaideep Shergill, CEO and Co-founder of Pitchfork Partners, remarked, “The dynamism of social media has defined the content game for a while now. The key to effective social media engagement is robust listening and monitoring. Awareness of where your audiences are and what they’re talking about informs the content. It informs the tonality, choice of platform and frequency. Contextuality is the key.”

He further elaborated, “We use technology extensively to drive strategy and customise content. Remember, data by itself is not a panacea. It’s the insights that you can draw from it that can make or break content strategy. Let’s take a very simple example. At the start of any client engagement, if the account is heavy on media relations, we do an audit with journalists covering the sector. Depending on the perception and the insights from that audit, a comprehensive media and content strategy is drawn up.”

Watch out for Adgully’s #TwitterChat this Friday, June 18, 2021, on ‘Value Vs Volume Game in PR’, as leading industry experts delve deep to chart the communications course for the PR industry in the new normal.

(Additional inputs by Ganapathy Viswanathan)


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